Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: 34 infections of new variant – cluster grows to 90; 45 community cases

There are 34 new Omicron cases today with the cluster associated with the new variant growing to 90 in less than a week.

The Ministry of Health is reporting 45 Covid-19 cases in the community today, which accounts for both Omicron and Delta variants of the virus. There were active cases being treated as Omicron in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Palmerston North, and Nelson Tasman

Omicron hits Hamilton music festival

The ministry announced that five people in Auckland tested positive for Covid-19yesterday afternoon after having attended the Soundsplash music festival in Hamilton over the weekend.

So far, 68 festival attendees have been identified as close contacts, and the ministry said this number was expected to increase.

Contact tracing staff were now contacting these people, who are required to follow all public health advice regarding isolation and testing.

Whole-genome sequencing has confirmed that one of the cases who attended the festival has the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, whole-genome sequencing was underway for the remaining four cases, the ministry said

Interviews with the five people would help determine whether they contracted Covid-19 before or while attending the festival.

Prominent microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles had already warned New Zealanders to “brace themselves”.

“Looks like (we) might have had a very big super-spreader event. Word of warning – nasal swabs may miss about 1/10 positives with Omicron so if you have symptoms and test negative you may still be infected,” Wiles posted on social media last night.
There were 7965 attendees at this year’s Soundsplash Festival.

Soundsplash was held under the orange traffic light setting and all Covid-19 protocols were strictly following, according to a joint statement from the Soundsplash Festival organisers and Mystery Creek Event Centre.

The strict Covid-19 protocols included scanning Vaccine Passes.

The organisers said there was a “small handful of instances” where individuals tried to sneak in to the event, but they were “minimal”.

Security guards quickly stopped those people and the police officers attending the event were notified, they said.

The event organiser and venue owner is now urging attendees to follow Ministry of Health advice and self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days and get tested if symptoms develop.

The festival was open to 16-year-olds and over.

A KFC restaurant in Tauranga has also been linked to a probable Omicron case.

The Ministry of Health said KFC Tauranga has been linked to a Covid case last week on Thursday, January 20, between 5pm and 10.16pm.

The case is considered high-risk and spent five hours at the store.

“This exposure is linked to a probable Omicron case,” the Ministry of Health said.

Anyone who was there at the time is urged to self-isolate and get tested immediately and again on day five after being exposed.

Just five Covid patients are in hospital today, with one person in Rotorua in intensive care.

There are two new cases of the virus in Waikato, both in Hamilton.

One has been linked to previous cases while the other was under investigation.

There are seven new cases in Rotorua.

Six are household contacts of previously reported cases while the other is under investigation.

In the Bay of Plenty, there are three new Covid-19 cases.

One of these people is part of a Tauranga household with two other cases, which was reported earlier in the week.

The other two cases were in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and were being investigated for links to previously reported cases, the ministry said in a statement.

The three people were linked to an exposure event at the early childhood centre, BestStart Pyes Pa, on January 19. Health officials were treating all three infections as Omicron.

More locations of interest were expected to be named arising from these cases.

The Ministry of Health also announced one new Covid-19 cases in Tairāwhitiand four cases in Canterbury – which were noted after the ministry’s reporting deadline.

The case reported in Tairāwhiti is in Gisborne. As the result was received after the ministry’s reporting deadline, it would be included instead in tomorrow’s figures.

Of today’s new community cases, 22 were in Auckland and at least one the cases was linked to a known or suspected Omicron case via whole-genome sequencing.

The remaining cases are under investigation.

A second Covid-19 case has been detected in Taranaki.

The person is a household contact of the Taranaki case reported by health authorities yesterday.

The second case in the region is linked to the January Omicron cluster, the health ministry said.

The case is in isolation and investigations were underway to find any locations of interest linked to the case.

Eight new cases of Covid-19 have been picked up in the Hawke’s Bay and all are expected to be linked to the known Hastings Delta cluster.

On one of the latest Auckland locations to be added to the exposure sites, the office manager at the Manakau Indian Association’s Diversity centre said the hall had been hired out for a private function connected to a wedding ceremony.

He said a traditional Punjabi Jago ceremony had taken place on Friday night.

TheJago ritual involves the relatives of the groom and bride celebrating the marriage with dancing and partying.

The centre had not been told by health authorities about the link to the Covid-infected person but the building was sanitised after every event, the manager said.

The latest on jabs

The health authority said another significant milestone had also been met with more than four million first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine having now been administered to the 12+ population.

Twenty six per cent of 5-11 year olds in the country had received a dose of the paediatric Covid-19 vaccine with 13,995 doses administered yesterday.

The total number of paediatric first doses given to Māori children aged 5-11 was 15,639 and Pacific children of the same age was 8,381.

Overall, 1,442 first doses and 2,317 second doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered yesterday.

Of eligible Māori, 89 per cent have received one dose and 85 per cent have received two.

Of eligible Māori, 89 per cent have received one dose and 85 per cent have received two.

Auckland school students isolating

Meanwhile120 Auckland Grammar School students have been sent home and told to get a Covid test if they attended Soundsplash at the weekend.

The Ministry of Health today confirmed that Soundsplash was a Covid location of interest and gave the time from 6am on Friday, January 21, to 9.15am on Sunday, January 23.

In a statement to parents, Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O’Connor said a number of senior students attended Soundsplash Festival at Mystery Creek over the weekend.

“We have decided we should put interim steps into place. This is because our school year has started, and today is the first full day of classes,” said O’Connor.

“This morning I recommended to students that anyone who attended the festival goes home and gets a Covid-19 test.”

Health officials confirmed today that Omicron had arrived in Queenstown, with two locations of interest revealed, and a Covid case was detected in Gisborne overnight.

Modelling, by a highly respected overseas health research organisation, indicates that the country could see 50,000 daily Omicron infections by Waitangi weekend and a peak of 80,000 a day just a few weeks later.

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